New Multifamily High-Rise Enhances the Vibrancy and Excitement of Atlanta’s Midtown
When Balfour Beatty signed on to build Alta Midtown, we knew we had to assemble a diverse team with a multitude of skills to tackle such a complex project. Alta Midtown, a mid- and high-rise residential facility, is a combination of different structure types, different design methods and difficult site constraints—all situated within a metropolitan downtown city block. Navigating challenges such as working in close proximity to public transit lines, achieving sustainability goals and building within an urban footprint, Balfour Beatty was able to deliver a product that enhances the unique vibrancy and excitement of the Atlanta Midtown neighborhood.
Collaborating with project owner, Wood Partners, Balfour Beatty successfully delivered a highly sustainable, unique structure that stands out amidst the numerous apartment and condominium towers that grace the Atlanta skyline. A half-acre courtyard, gas water heating, gas cooking, gas clothes drying, LEED for Midrise Certification, 19,000 square feet of commercial retail, 1,000 spaces of residential and office parking are all a part of the 369-unit project we’ve delivered – with more to come.
Working with (and above) Public Transit Railways
Erecting an 842,000-square-foot multifamily development over MARTA, Atlanta’s public transit system, was no small feat—especially considering high-rises cannot be built over rail tracks due to the lack of deep foundation systems required to support the load of larger structures. To ensure all proper precautions were taken, our team developed a professional relationship with MARTA’s Chief of Utilities. The existing infrastructure created unique challenges during early foundation pours during which our team discovered as-built conditions that differed from as-built plans. As these discrepancies were discovered, the relationship we established with the MARTA representative allowed for corrective action to expeditiously repair unforeseen conditions.
An additional benefit was the ability to partner with Metro Waterproofing, Inc., a subcontractor that not only had worked exclusively on the MARTA subway system beneath the Alta Midtown project but was also a pre-approved subcontractor with Balfour Beatty. This relationship often allowed for same-day access to materials and labor to remediate excavation issues, which ultimately saved both time and money on this project.
Sustainable Action Plan for LEED Certification
Utilizing our Sustainable Action Plan, the Alta Midtown team, alongside Wood Partner’s LEED Consultant, E3 Consulting, targeted the mixed-use project to pursue LEED for Midrise certification. By definition, “mid-rise” is typically a structure ranging from four to 12 stories; however, our combined square footage of high-rise and mid-rise coupled with sustainable methods of construction allowed us to fall within the mid-rise category.
Below are a few sustainable project features that Alta Midtown provided, different from the average mix-use project:
- Natural gas cooking, water heating and clothes drying through the entire building
- White Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofing for low heat island effect
- Low volatile organic compound (VOC ) glues used to install luxury vinyl plank flooring in the units and carpet tiles in the corridors
- 80% of trash was diverted from landfill – that’s more than 2 million pounds of trash diverted in the first year of construction alone!
Safety Innovations: Doka System
Innovation doesn’t just apply to preconstruction, construction techniques and scheduling. In our world, it also applies to safety. While the project was under construction, Midtown passersby may have observed bright yellow panels wrapping the sides of Alta Midtown. Though those panels—part of the Doka system implemented on the project—functioned as a great branding tool for Balfour Beatty and our client, Wood Partners, it also served an even greater purpose: enhanced safety.
Our national safety team was first introduced to the Doka system several years ago through work in cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. No contractor had yet brought it to Georgia, and it was a new endeavor for Balfour Beatty in the U.S. as well. Seeking a solution to operate even more safely in a downtown environment and improve upon lessons learned during the construction of Buckhead Atlanta, Balfour Beatty’s field team and safety directors worked together to research and understand the benefits of implementing a system like Doka on Alta Midtown.
This system proved effective, having prevented, for example, two separate incidents of plywood falling while wrecking table forms, as well as the blow-out of a concrete pump, which potentially saved tens of thousands of dollars in property damages as well as protect workers from harm. Other ways this innovative system kept Alta Midtown safe were:
- Providing protection to stop all sizes of debris, tools, equipment or material that could be dropped, blown or knocked off the working deck and floors below;
- Preventing small concrete debris or splatter from falling or being blown off the building onto cars below or neighboring buildings; and
- Serving as perimeter fall protection for the 3 ½ floors it covered at a time.
One thing is certain, team Balfour Beatty always strives to improve upon our lessons learned on each job and stay abreast of the latest safety trends in the industry.
Extremely Tight Urban Sites
At Alta Midtown, the unusual constraints of the site caused our team to be more creative in their thinking and incorporate more lean building techniques to streamline the process. As an example, the team implemented off-site fabrication to alleviate limited area for material laydown. Equally important was maintaining a well-established delivery schedule to keep the project running smoothly. All deliveries had to be made “just-in-time,” which came with a risk; if materials were fabricated incorrectly, it provided the team with little time to react, putting even more emphasis on quality control through the shop drawing review process.
The opportunity to alter the skyline of Midtown Atlanta can prove to be as complex as it is captivating, yet the most important strategy a building partner can employ in a bustling urban setting is not complicated at all – communication. At Alta Midtown and on every project Balfour Beatty is privileged to build, our team embraces relationships with clients, architects, subcontractors and even other general contractors so that challenges are overcome collaboratively. And that’s sage advice in a community that will only continue to grow and foster a rich and vibrant culture in years to come.